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Civil Disobedience: Socrates and Thoreau

The civil disobedience movement was widely supported by philosophers of ancient times as well as modern thinkers. However, their views on the matter significantly differed in the way they expressed them. The two contrasting figures in philosophy related to this idea are Henry David Thoreau and Socrates, and their comparison demonstrates the varying perspectives on the matter and allows us to see if they can be applied to the present-day world.

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The first philosopher under consideration, Thoreau, was the person who openly presented his opinion on civil disobedience. According to him, people should not let the government rule their lives (Thoreau). This statement made his essay extremely popular among some political activists (Thoreau). It is significant that he not only provided the theoretical basis for such a stance but also practiced it in his everyday life by refusing to pay taxes (Thoreau). Socrates, in turn, believed that the rules of the government should be followed. His civil disobedience was expressed in the form of freedom of speech, especially in politics, and this specificity makes him stand out (Yu). What is more important, his perspective is more compelling than the one of Thoreau since it is still applicable in the twenty-first century.

The comparison of these two philosophers who greatly contributed to the development of the civil disobedience movement reflects the difference in practice in the context of a similar theoretical basis. From this point of view, Thoreau’s actions seem to be more aggressive than the behavior of Socrates and are not entirely justified by the considerations of a public good. This fact makes his stance inappropriate for present-day society since the freedom of speech promoted by the latter is a more beneficial approach in terms of modern politics.

Works Cited

Thoreau, Henry David. On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. Sandlin’s Books & Bindery, 1992.

Yu, Richard K. “Socrates and Civil Disobedience.” Medium. 2018, Web.

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StudyCorgi. "Civil Disobedience: Socrates and Thoreau." January 31, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/civil-disobedience-socrates-and-thoreau/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Civil Disobedience: Socrates and Thoreau." January 31, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/civil-disobedience-socrates-and-thoreau/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Civil Disobedience: Socrates and Thoreau'. 31 January.

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